I'm Lisa, and this is where I blog
about my interactions with music, art, food and
culture in Toronto and around the world. I'm a freelance writer, budding screenwriter, and juror for both the Polaris and the Prism Prize awards.
Find out more about me here and find my press page here!
I’m sure you all know it’s that time of year again.
While I will be spending the afternoon of February 13th with my favourite lady friends for #GalantinesDay, I will be spending the evening at iYellowWine’s annual South African Wine celebration at 918 Bathurst.
Thanks to the lovely ladies at iYellow, I have a pair of tix to give to one of you as well.
If you don’t know what to do on this Hallmark holiday (beyond watching How To Be Single, obviously), there’s really nothing better than spending 3 hours tasting 24 wines (including 8 from Vintages) with your favourite person.
To enter, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “I Love Wine” and mention the session you prefer to attend (specify either 2pm or 7pm).
Followers can also gain bonus entries by sharing this giveaway on Twitter (include the #iLoveSAWine hashtag) and hearting/commenting on my photo about it on Instagram.
If you want to get your plans for the high pressure weekend solid asap, you can buy your tickets here today. There’s no better way to surprise your boo, promise.
Contest closes and the winner will be contacted via email on Wednesday February 10th.
p.s. when you share, it makes my day...
Posted on Monday February 1 by Lisa Lagace at 3:22 pm
Well, the end of January is here – and I had planned to post this review of 2015 a few weeks back, but then David Bowie died – and it felt wrong to post about my year when I (and the world around me) was feeling so sad about losing this music legend. So I put it off… but then I wasn’t sure if there was any reason for me to write about Bowie after literally anyone and everyone wrote everything that could be said about him.
But then I remembered how shitty I felt (in retrospect) for not writing about Lou Reed when he passed away. Lou’s I don’t give a fuck attitude made him arguably even more of a personal icon for me than the colourful Bowie, so I wasn’t expecting Ziggy Stardust’s death to hit me quite as hard as it did. I am well aware that I will be a mess when Dylan (and Springsteen) leave this world, but I wasn’t expecting it with Bowie. Maybe because I had never thought about it, because he really did seem like a beautiful immortal alien.
What I will say, is that I hope everyone can exit the physical world with the level of creativity, grace, humour and acceptance he did with Blackstar. As he always did, he used his fame to shine a light on something seemingly scary if you’re struggling with it (gender, sexuality, diversity… being different in any way, and now death) and made it into something beautiful.
Now for that 2015 year in review I wrote…. Well, the last one I posted was all the way back at the end of 2012.
By the end of 2013, I was working my ass off during Christmas break for free – the year end was so stressful I just didn’t have time to write about the year as a whole – but the majority of the year was actually some of the best times of my life – I traveled for free to many festivals, I attended all the events, ended toxic friendships, met someone special, and opportunities came my way that I will remember forever. While I don’t know that this Weakerthans song really summed up 2013 for me, it was an important one for a few reasons, so it gets the title.
In 2014, some shady shit went down. I made mistakes, for sure, but something so vile was done to me that I didn’t feel it would be a positive thing to write about. My privacy was violated in a huge way and lies were spread – I could have sued (and some say I should have because of the proof I have) – but my decision was instead to let it go and use my time in more positive productive ways. The experience made me understand completely why so many Ghomeshi victims chose to stay silent about what happened: you can try to get justice, but you will only stress yourself out more – and after the months I had already spent being in a constantly stressed out state, the last thing I wanted was more stress. I chose to focus on being happy, and put it behind me as much as I could. As the year came to an end, I was very happy. My song of 2014 was Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. It was the anthem I needed, right when I needed it. Just remember, if you address the lies, you are playing into it. Don’t spend your energy on negativity, it will only drag you down with them.
So here I am at the end of 2015 start of 2016. My song of 2015 is Ryan Adams version of Shake It Off, because 2015 was hard as well, but for personal, rather than outside reasons. This song fully exemplifies the way it feels when a truly important relationship ends and you’re trying your best to move on. Taylor’s version is the anthem you need when people that don’t matter are fucking with you (haters gonna hate), Ryan’s is the version that feels exactly right when it’s someone who matters the most (players gonna play).
2015 was a hard year. I hadn’t fully healed from what happened in 2014, and it’s quite possible I used my relationship to ignore it. If I had someone, I was okay, and I could forget what happened to me and how it tainted my relationship with the thing I had always loved most – music.
As my relationship ended, I struggled deeply to be happy. I had lost my passion for the local music scene, and now I had lost my best friend.
I am lucky enough that I had great friends to pull me through the hardest days. They lifted me up and invited me out, stayed up with me until the sunrise made it safe to sleep again, and reminded me to shake it off, and to know my worth. I also have amazing parents, a family that loves me, and a pomeranian who is still the light of my life. So, while I felt a giant void from the events of the last 2 years, I am well aware how lucky I am, and how the ones that matter never go away, or make you feel like you’re unworthy of their time.
2015 was also the year that I moved to a new apartment. When facing heartbreak, a new home is a good way to wipe away memories and start fresh – but after 7+ years living on Cameron street in the literal heart and soul of the city, I really did not want to move. I started my blog there, ran my business from its moldy, damaged walls, and watched my life radically grow from something I was bored of into the purpose driven, opportunity drenched one I created.
Basically, all the good things that happened in my life happened while I lived there. My life only started to feel like it was mine when I was able to wake up every morning and see that big THIS IS PARADISE Cameron House sign out my window – reminding me that it was paradise – and that my life would never again be like it was before I lived there. Before I knew how to be me. Before I knew who I was supposed to be. I had graduated University when I moved there at 22, and here I was, newly 30, having to leave my first real home behind.
I am now 4 months into the radical shift that is Liberty Village life, a whole 20 minute walk away from my former intersection. And I’d be lying if I said I love this neighbourhood even half as much as I loved Queen and Spadina – but I do love my new apartment – and no longer living in a dilapidated, rundown 3rd floor walk-up (that briefly had mice) is actually quite nice. My giant balcony has a view of Lake Ontario, and I have about double the space of my former place, along with a game room, an onsite gym, free parking, storage, and a park for Mr. Bojangles to play in – aka I giant change from Cameron Street. Oh and I have so much counter space, so I can fulfill all my cooking dreams #growingup.
Speaking of cooking – I set out a bunch of hefty goals in 2015 – and I think one of the only ones I successfully completed was learning to cook. I had a goal of cooking one new from scratch recipe a week – 48 total – and while I didn’t hit that number – I still did pretty damn good. I didn’t want to be 30 and still eating chemically modified food from a box, and thankfully I will never have to worry about that again.
My intentions for 2016 are, as always, quite large, but I finally feel like I am back in the headspace to make them happen. I have no more distractions and I know the path I need to take to reach the next big goal.
A redesign of TTRO is in the works, and when it happens, things will feel different – but the content itself won’t change because it will still be my thoughts, ramblings, experiences and opinions. I might be writing more about healthy living, and less about drinking all night watching bands, but that’s because I am no longer 24 – as I was when I started this. My life goals are a little different now, so as I change, the blog changes too.
This is my 2016 manifesto: I will not waste a minute of 2016 on people who don’t have a minute for me, as I have done so much in the past. On guys who don’t text back within a respectful timeframe, on “cool” people I think I need to impress, on writing I don’t want to do, on anything that doesn’t inspire me and anyone who doesn’t give me back as much as I give them and want me in their life as much as I want them. I will spend more time working on the big projects I am excited to produce; with the people I know will always be there for me; and doing more things that are good for my health and well-being.
I hope you had a great 2015 (or at the very least, one filled with big lessons as mine was). Here’s to a productive and kind (rest of) 2016.
p.s. when you share, it makes my day...
Posted on Sunday January 31 by Lisa Lagace at 12:26 am
The way technology is changing vehicles is quite a thing to witness. The connected car is a thing of brilliance and beauty. As if our lives weren’t simple enough, now our cars are as useful as our smartphones.
Well, I didn’t think it could get much better – but the fact is – when it comes to audio, most cars have a decent system, but there is usually room for improvement.
Lucky for us, Ford figured out how to reach the pinnacle of car audio perfection by teaming up with Sony while they were designing their new 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum.
The new Premium Audio System by Sony includes 12 high-quality speakers in 10 areas throughout the car, including sub-woofers – meaning your car has a surround sound system – so everyone in the car gets the same epic sound quality experience (yes even way at the back).
I had a chance to test drive the car and it was almost comparable to concert quality sound – the Clear Phase and Live Acoustic technology ensures there is limited distortion (no matter how loud you blast it), which is key for those long highway drives when all you want to do is singalong at the top of your lungs to Springsteen to make the trip go by faster.
During the launch, myself and a group of bloggers were invited to the Sony Centre to check out the car while also experiencing the concert sound of the Sony Centre, to compare. It’s crazy to me how they were able to capture that live sound experience within the vehicle.
While I wouldn’t normally see the band Magic! out of my own volition, it was super fun to have a private show put on for the very small group of us, in a venue as large as the Sony Centre.
Sidenote – we also stopped for dinner at Pravda Vodka Bar for dinner – which, as a Vodka girl – I had always been meaning to try out. If you’re looking for a great date spot in Toronto, this is the place. Their drink menu is my dream drink menu.
Beyond the brilliant audio, the car itself is beautiful. It’s the largest vehicle I’ve ever driven, which normally would intimidate me, but with SYNC doing its job, and all the other perks it comes with, I was more than happy to drive this SUV around the city. The greatest perk of all might be the massaging seats. I’ve had heated seats before – but this takes it to another level. I get serious lower back pain from time to time and having this option was truly a blessing.
What can’t this car do? Seriously. If you want to impress your relatives this holiday, drive up in one of these. Everyone will want to take turns testing it out.
p.s. when you share, it makes my day...
Posted on Friday December 18 by Lisa Lagace at 5:28 pm
Today’s guest post comes just in time for the brutal Christmas holiday travels you are about to endure next week. Here are 6 key things to keep in mind before you get on that plane, train, bus, or in the car to visit your family – from Jennifer Scott:
Holiday traveling is the stuff that nightmares are made of…if you’re a pessimist, that is. If you’re an optimist, on the other hand, busy, chaotic holiday travel is a perfect opportunity to have a little fun and enjoy the ride – literally.
Whether you’re an eternal optimist looking for some fun ways to spice up a long journey this holiday season or a stressed-out parent riddled with anxiety over the potential tantrums your kids might have in a (very) public space in the next few weeks, these tips will help you create the most memorable (and enjoyable) holiday travel experience of your life.
Stock Up on Snacks. Lots of Snacks.
Yep, snacks are a must. Diet or no diet, there are plenty of appetizing, portable eats that can calm your nerves or at least give you something to do if you’re forced to spend a few idle hours waiting in an airport or riding in a car. And if you prefer a special kind of creamer or milk for your caffeine fix, make sure you bring an ample supply. Of course, if you’re traveling by air, your options are a bit more limited, but do what you can to keep yourself fueled to avoid any “hangriness” among your travel companions.
Download Some Useful Apps in Advance.
There are a variety of fun, entertaining, and even useful apps to help you find what you need and pass the time while you’re traveling over the holidays. But make sure to download them before you go – you know, while you’re on Wi-Fi and not burning up your precious data – so there’s no waiting for an app to download when you need an instant distraction during your journey.
Plan Some Quality Time…Apart.
The whole point of traveling together over the holidays is to spend tons of quality time with family and friends. But too many people who aren’t used to living under the same roof suddenly sparring over shower time can quickly lead to rising tensions. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan not only for quality time with your loved ones, but ample time for everyone to have their own space so your family members are slightly less inclined to have an impromptu fist fight over the turkey.
Skip Staying with Relatives and Make It a Mini-Vacation.
Because there are fewer business travelers, it might be possible to book a posh hotel on the cheap over the holidays. So if staying with your Aunt Susan and her obnoxious teenagers isn’t the most fun-filled way to spend a holiday, turn it into a mini-adventure and stay in a hotel, B&B, or vacation rental home instead of with family. Probably a good idea to pick a lodging option within a reasonable distance of your family so you can still make an appearance at family gatherings, unless of course you’re going for the absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder effect.
Don’t Sweat Layovers.
If you’re flying to your destination this holiday season and your journey involves a connecting flight or two, a lengthy layover could be in your future. Typically, layovers – especially unexpected layovers – are a source of massive frustration for travelers. But here’s the good news: Airports can be a whole lot of fun these days, with fancy restaurants, classy shops, and even day spa services. Make the most of whatever time you end up hanging around an airport by making it part of your adventure.
Don’t be a stick in the mud when it comes to holiday travel. It’s all part of the fun, with every misstep an opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime. Planning only goes so far. With a go-with-the-flow attitude and a willingness to think outside the normal holiday rules (that you likely impose on yourself), holiday travel can be something to look forward to each year.
If You’re Travelling with Kids, Keep them Entertained.
Traveling with kids is a challenge all on its own, but with a lighthearted attitude you can make it fun for everyone. Silly games, such as scavenger hunts or license-plate “I Spy” games, sing-a-longs, and story time sessions can pass the time and distract antsy passengers from the fact that you won’t be “there yet” for at least six more hours.
If you’re flying, be sure to bring plenty of distractions. Books, a tablet loaded with kid games and apps, and DVDs all serve as great ways to keep little ones entertained on long flights. You might also bring along their favorite blanket and a pillow so that they can take a nap when they’re ready for a rest. Just be sure the carry-on you pack all these distractions in meets the luggage size requirements set by your airline.
Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. She created her website, SpiritFinder.org, as a platform for advocacy on opening up about mental health. Through the site, she hopes to share the steps and success stories that can help others realize their own power. When she isn’t working on her website, she enjoys traveling, working with animals, and seeking out new friendships and adventures.
p.s. when you share, it makes my day...
Posted on Friday December 18 by Lisa Lagace at 4:04 pm
If you watched last weekend’s SNL you will probably know why I am posting this.
Leon Bridges music is gorgeous, but this particular performance of this song did something to me that I can’t quite explain. As I tweeted, I stopped in my tracks while doing chores. I had to watch the screen and pay attention to what was happening because it was so powerful.
The album version is strong, but gospel music is at its best live, and it shows here. This performance is one of the most beautiful live performances in SNL history, if you ask me.
I watch SNL to laugh, but this made me cry (in a good way). This is music at its best. This is music that forces you to pay attention because it’s reaching some part of you that you don’t even really know is there until you hear a song performed like this.
I am posting this for anyone who may have missed it, but mostly I am posting it for me, so I can always easily come back and find it in the years to come.
p.s. when you share, it makes my day...
Posted on Thursday December 10 by Lisa Lagace at 6:11 am